ACT Section Retesting: Do Students Perform as Expected?

Beginning in September 2020, students will have the option to retake one or more sections of the ACT test (referred to as section retesting, modular testing, or single subject retesting), instead of needing to take the entire battery again.

Section retests will only be available to students who have previously completed the full battery and only available to students retesting online. The section retest option is being made available to students because research conducted to date indicates that ACT scores combined across multiple administrations are valid; this includes results from the current study which suggest that students’ performance when retesting in a single ACT subject area tends to be consistent with expected performance estimated from standard retesting with the full battery.

With section retesting, there is essentially a shift in which subject test is taken first, and therefore there is a need to ensure that scores are comparable, regardless of the order in which the subject tests were taken.

Building on these prior studies, the focus of the current study was to examine student performance on single-subject retests. More specifically, the study objective was to examine whether section retesting results in larger score gains as compared to traditional retesting (taking the entire battery). That is, this study evaluated whether allowing students to take one subject test at a time resulted in students performing better than what is typically seen among students testing with the full battery, taking into account students’ prior ACT scores and other testing characteristics.